In January 2017, shocking allegations of child sexual abuse emerged from a Bengaluru based Kendriya Vidyalaya. The accused Kumar Thakur who was the principal of the school would allegedly target vulnerable female students and harass them under the guise of counselling. Investigators had told TNM that he would gather multiple girls and talk to them about their sex lives. Not just students, even teachers were subject to lewd messages from him and he would he would apparently threaten to stop paying them salaries if they complained.
The revelation led to outrage amongst the parents of students and the general public. An Internal Complaints Committee was formed, Thakur forced to go on leave and finally arrested in February, 2017. The principal was booked under various sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and Section 354(A) (Assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the Indian Penal Code. But a day later, he was let out on bail.
And now, despite a trial in the matter being underway in the Karnataka High Court, Thakur has been posted as the Principal of a Kendriya Vidyalaya in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. His date of joining was August 13 with the school's website posting his picture on its home page.
When TNM spoke to the principal about his latest appointment, he denied the charges against him.
"The allegations against me are all false. The matter is sub-judice and trial is underway in court. It is a departmental decision to transfer me," Thakur says. "If anyone sees this as a problem, that is merely their perception," he states.
This is, however, not the principal's first appointment after the allegations came to light. Thakur was earlier transferred to the Karwar branch in Karnataka despite the grave charges against him. The Commissioner of the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) was summoned by the Karnataka State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights over this.
DK Dwivedi, Assistant Commissioner (Vigilance), KVS had then said, "As per the rules, an accused principal is not allowed to stay near the spot where the incident took place or come in contact with any witness, including students and teachers. Accordingly, we had transferred him to a school in Karwar. Initially, he was asked to go on leave but we revoked it so that he could come back for inquiries."
This time however, the child rights body is set to escalate the matter further.
"This transfer is definitely not legal," says Kripa Alva, former Chairperson of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights. "It is very clear that up until he is acquitted by the court, he cannot be serving in any position, leave alone being a principal. Now that he is coming in contact with students again, you are putting the safety of students at risk. We strongly object to it. The Child Rights Commission will be writing to the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan and this is something that we have done in the past as well. KVS is going against the order of a quasi-judicial body and we will be taking it up very seriously. If this does not work, we will be writing to the Human Resources and Development Ministry," she added.